Beauty To Go: Products I Never Travel Without

Susan B's favorite beauty products for travel. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

I always try to pack as lightly as possible, so I’m selective about which skin care and beauty products make it into my suitcase.

Beauty Products For Travel

Shown above:

  1. Trish McEvoy Instant Eye Lift. Jet-lagged? This stuff is like a night’s sleep in a tube. It helps me look refreshed and rested.
  2. Makeover Workshop Blondi Brow Pencil. My brows are quite sparse, and filling them in helps me look more awake and “present.” I love this pencil for travel as it goes on easily and stays put all day, and doesn’t require a sharpener. (If your hair/brows are darker, there’s a Brunette pencil too.)
  3. Lighted Magnifying Mirror. Even the nicest accommodations can have crappy bathroom lighting and mirrors. This one can be held easily in one hand, is rechargeable and compact. (It can also be propped up.) I’m nearsighted, so that magnification really helps!
  4. Sunscreen!! Probably the most important step of any skincare routine, especially if you’ll be spending time outdoors. I like this mineral formula, but there’s also a gel formula that works nicely as a primer. And don’t forget your hands! All of these are packaged in TSA-compliant sizes, but you can aways decant into smaller containers if you prefer.
  5. Travel Toiletries Bag. This one from EMME is the best I’ve ever found. Holds a lot in clear pockets (so those items are easy to find), can be hung (saving precious counter space), and folds down to a compact size. There’s a removable clear pouch for your TSA liquids. These bags make great gifts too (Mothers’ Day is coming up…). Save 20% with code UNEFEMME at checkout!
  6. Makeover Workshop Re-Creation Lip Treatment. Between dry airplane cabins and varying climates, my lips can get really dry and flaky when I travel. This product is the one thing I’ve found that keeps my lips feeling moisturized for hours, and prevents flaking.

Click here for tips on selecting and packing toiletries.

For most other skincare, I tend to rely on either sample packets from my favorite brands, or decant from full-size to travel-size containers. (The EMME bag comes with a nice set of these smaller containers!)

I also have learned to pack:

All of the products I’ve linked to are cruelty-free.

What beauty products do you always travel with?

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  1. Susan, thanks for the information on beauty products for travel. I will definitely look into them.
    Now, what do you do to make your hair look presentable after a long flight? Mine is fairly short and fine and no matter how it starts out, by the end of an overnight flight it is both flat and fly-away.

    1. Like Carillon, my hair short and fine and tens to lay flat after a day of flying.
      If you were to wear a hat, what suggestions can you offer.

      1. I love bérets. They crush your hair much less than other hats, and there are soft cotton bérets (for example from Parkhurst, made in Toronto, that aren’t too hot for mild weather). My hair is the opposite, very curly-kinky, but after a day of flying some hats would make it very nasty indeed.

        1. Thanks, I will check them out. Can’t imagine that curly-kinky wouldn’t look good anytime, but I guess I am just jealous of what I don’t have 😉

  2. I always love to see what you’re packing in the way of face products. Face and hair products are always my nemesis. I’ve been using Beautycounter’s mineral sunscreen (tinted) and like it quite a bit. I like the idea of taking the reusable Konjac sponge! I usually take makeup remover wipes to take all that sunscreen off at night but also have to pack a good face washing product because my skin loves to breakout!
    So would you say that your makeup (while traveling) is reduced to brows/lashes and lips? Or do you also take blush and eyeliner?
    I now have two EMME bags: one large and one small. They’re terrific.
    Thanks so much for your review!

    1. Hi Sally, for makeup, I usually pack: foundation (currently still loving Charlotte Tilbury and make room in my liquids for it), blush, brow pencil, pencil eyeliner, an eye shadow duo (which I rarely wear except at night) mascara, the Instant Eye Lift, and a couple of lipsticks. The colors depend on the season.

    2. Sally, is that Beautycounter’s Dew Skin Moisturizing Coverage? I’m always looking to try new tinted mineral sunscreens. Typically I use Clinique City Block or City Block Sheer but partly for lack of better options. (Glytone is just great as a non-tinted product though!)

  3. I travel a lot so I purchase small versions of face/hair items when I can. I wear very little make up on long flights other than a light moisturizing sheer foundation such as Revisionist Intellishade or Laura Mercier. On the plane, I use a good spray hydration product. I have used an EMME bag for years and just bought the flowered one which is the same size. I take one Stowaway eyeshadow collection or 2 “tubs” of contrasting shadow, 2 eyeshadow brushes, Lancôme foundation/sunscreen compact that has a nice mirror, eyeliner, BOOM colorstick for my cheeks (wonderful product), one or two neutral Chanel lipsticks that have color on one end and gloss on the other and it stays on all day, and small versions or self pack my skin care (cleanser, retinol, vitamin C lotion, and moisturizer that is AM/PM). Revisionist has a high SPF but I always take an ELTA MD zinc oxide based sunscreen in their “clear” line because it really does go clear upon application. By the way Glo Theraputics has a wonderful cleanser in a small bottle that has a locking top! Never leave home without it! I leave for Africa again in 2 weeks and am limited to 25 pounds or so I will stick to my “less is best” methods. Hair…put on a hat! I have mid length hair that needs a blow dryer or it has odd waves. For Africa I have let my hair grow and it will be pony tail time. Elsewhere, I have found hotels have dryers or I will go out to a local salon and have a wash and blow dry (Lucca….inside the walls….$10} and I have a tiny travel hair iron. Hope this helps someone!

  4. I purchased the small Emme bag after reading about about it on your blog last year. I love the bag as everything stores so easily and keeps me organised. I particularly like the zip off pouches which I sometime use to keep makeup in my handbag or in the glovebox of my car.

    The only downside is that mail costs to Australia almost doubled the cost of the bag. However, I recently took advantage of an Emme sale and bought the large bag which is a better size for longer trips.

    By the way, I loved your cream and black outfit in another post this week. Simple, but elegant.

  5. Never leave home without a folding brush and Clarins Super Restorative Tinted Cream with SPF 20. Being very low maintenance, it’s a light foundation, treatment & sunscreen in one tube. The only other items I pack are a night moisturizer, hair conditioner because hotel ones are not effective & pre blow-out hair product, hand cream and a lipstick in every bag- purse, carry-on & suitcase. I’m a few weeks younger than you, Susan, but can’t wear mascara anymore due to allergies. Boo hoo!

  6. I have tried for years to decrease the bulk of my toiletry kit. I purchased the EMME petite bag on your recommendation last year, got some tiny lipsticks from Bobbi Brown, decanted anything too bulky, including my purple shampoo for silver hair, into smaller containers and I made it for twelve days in Ireland with no problem. The “Stowaways” line also has tiny product. I liked all products except the eye liners.

  7. Two questions: First, the Instant Eye Lift has some reviews that say it’s drying and cakey. I’m always on the lookout for something that can be used as an eyelid primer but isn’t drying. Assume you don’t agree with the reviews? Second, do you know the weight of the makeup mirror? I could use a good travel mirror, but don’t want to add much weight to my already-too-heavy suitcase.

    I like Neutrogena makeup remover wipes for travel, and for cleansing I’m a big fan of Olay cleansing cloths. They are small dry waffle-textured cloths imbedded with cleanser. When you get them wet they suds up, and are very good for cleaning the face. My daughter took some on a medical mission trip to Honduras and also used them as body washcloths.

    1. I have not found the Instant Eye Lift to be drying or cakey. I don’t think it would work as a primer, as it’s not completely matte either. Regarding the mirror, I don’t have a small scale, but I’d say it’s in the neighborhood of 3 oz.

    2. I use the Olay cleansing cloths as a back up to my regular cleanser which is the Simple Make-up removing cloths with micellar water. I was once in a travel situation that had me staying 4 extra days beyond what I had planned. I learned from that experience to be prepared. A few of the Olay dry cloths don’t add weight and are perfect for an emergency situation.

  8. I pack an extra small pack of makeup remover cloths when traveling in Caribbean. I keep them in my daypack to freshen up my face from the humidity.

  9. I found a great lighted magnifying mirror by Tweezerman at Walgreens for $15. It even has small suction pads on the back. I bought this for my sister who was in the hospital at the time then went back to buy myself one to add to my Emme travel case. I plan to lay in a supply of these to gift friends who frequently travel.

  10. My best purchase for long flights has been noise cancelling earbuds – not a toiletry, but I think that anything that helps you relax on a long flight is good for you and helps you to look more rested!